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It’s very important not to give GarPax any credit for Lauri Markkanen

which is unfortunate because that means so much to them!

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NBA: Chicago Bulls-Press Conference David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Markkanen has been quite good. Not outright spectacular, but given his age it’s already notable that he’s even had 3 solid performances. It’s rare for a player this young to be putting up stat lines like he has.

That’s all great news: this Bulls roster is so devoid of talent after the compounding awfulness of the past 5 years of transactions, that they need to get any possible player who could be a core piece on an actually-good team. Whenever that is planned to occur.

It’s also extremely important that John Paxson and Gar Forman don’t get any credit or reprieve, and they’re still fired (and maybe tried in a court of law?) for their management of this team. For one thing, it’s a nice way to rationalize wanting to feel good about a Bulls player without the hang-ups of hating everything about the Bulls. And there’s a case that they don’t deserve the praise anyway.

The Bulls didn’t know Markkanen was going to be good

It’s been an established timeline through Paxson’s own mealy-mouthed explanations that the Bulls weren’t intending on trading Jimmy Butler only to get ‘blown away’ by what Minnesota offered. That could explain (plus their very small, big-market, operations staff!) why they didn’t really work out top prospects, including Markkanen:

Gar Forman did try to cover afterwards that they did their homework.

we took Lauri because he was the best player on the board. We had him rated a little higher. We scouted him extensively. He played at a high level at Arizona. He could really, really shoot. All our background checks were terrific on him. He’s mobile. He’s got a motor. He’s a worker. We just thought he’s a fit for the direction we’re headed. He’s a fit for how we want to build this team and in today’s NBA.

Now, I will grant the possibility that maybe Markkanen’s location in Arizona did mean the Bulls accidentally saw some tape. Jim Paxson is based in the area and likely needed to create some expenses for write-off purposes and saw a game. Michael Reinsdorf is an Arizona alum. With a very small scouting department you have to leverage relationships!

Markkanen thrived internationally instead of being ‘in their building’

To believe the Bulls, their practice facility is hallowed ground. It’s why they wanted Nikola Mirotic to be there so badly.

“It's a dilemma around the league, but international players, a lot of times they spend the summer around their national team. And Niko had a great experience doing that last year, winning the bronze medal," executive vice president John Paxson said in early May. "But in reality, from our seat, he lost some time in the weight room with us, lost some time on the floor with our coaches...we also hope that he'll be here all summer long. And we hope that statistically, what he has done after the All-Star break these first three years, we're hoping he can do it more consistently.”

Strangely enough, they did not impose this plan on Lauri Markkanen. While Mirotic was posting workout photos on Instagram, Markkanen was balling his way through Eurobasket.

Being this far away from the Bulls coaches, and in a competitive environment against professionals, was likely a huge positive step in Markkanen’s development.

Poor roster construction around Markkanen

Needless to say, ‘being in our building’ to foster ‘Bulls culture’ is total bunk, as it only got Mirotic a broken face. Bobby Portis was one of those reportedly who fully embraced the Bulls ethos that hard work in a manageable proximity (as opposed to playing basketball well) would mean a big role for him, and ahead of Markkanen.

That Portis and Mirotic literally knocked eachother out of the rotation to give Markkanen all this opportunity shows that the Bulls didn’t plan on this.

Additionally, the terrible guard play surrounding the stretch big will only serve to stifle him.

GarPax are petty people who are easily annoyed

This may be the most important reason to deny these guys any credit, and enjoy Lauri Markkanen’s success outside of the context of evaluating those two:

Maybe we can find a theory that Tom Thibodeau liked Markkanen first before trading that pick to the Bulls, and give HIM the credit?

Thanks again, Thibs!